Honors College students discuss race with New York Times columnist

On Tuesday, novelist and New York Times columnist Anand Giriharadas and subject Raisuddin Bhuiyan visited the College of Charleston to discuss “The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas” with Honors College students. The book, selected for this year’s The College Reads program, follows Rais’s story after he is shot in the face by a racist man in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. A TedTalk given by Giriharadas covers the story more in depth here.

As students and guests sat down to lunch, the floor was opened immediately for questions.

The first questions directed at Giriharadas all pertained to his novel – how did he find the story and what makes it relevant to Americans today?

Anand Giriharadas discussed his book with Honors College students on Tuesday (Photo by Scott Harvin).

Author Anand Giriharadas discussed his book with Honors College students on Tuesday. (Photo by Scott Harvin)

“I read about the story in a news brief in The New York Times and felt that there was something interesting there,” said Giriharadas. “It’s a small story about the biggest story going on in our world right now… a story about who is ‘us?’”

As the conversation continued, students moved away from the author’s creative process to share their own experiences of racial injustice.

The group raised issues with how people of color are treated and the clear biases in American culture – from underhanded compliments on how well they talk, to complete ignorance of the issues they face daily.

Bhuiyan explained that it is our job to make people uncomfortable.

“What we need to do every day – make people uncomfortable. Not in a bad way, but challenge… whatever is not right. Raise your voice… so they will think.”

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Scott Harvin is a sophomore Communication major with a minor in International Studies in the Honors College at the College of Charleston. Originally from Sumter, South Carolina, he is thrilled to be able to call the wonderful city of Charleston his new home, where he cannot wait to watch the next three years of his life unfold. Other than his academic career at the College, Scott is also a Resident Assistant in McAlister Residence Hall, a tour guide for Charleston 40, a member of the Student Ambassador Program and a News Contributor for CisternYard News. All of this can only mean two things: first, he knows pretty much anything anyone could ever want to know about the College and second, he never sleeps. Despite this, he still finds time to explore his passions for music, photography and adventure, collecting vinyl records while traveling the southeast with close companions to root out the best experiences, restaurants and events the world has to offer. He does all of this while pursuing his ultimate dream: becoming a journalist for a major news branch, preferably in New York, where he hopes to live out the American Dream. “You may call him a dreamer, but he’s not the only one.”

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